Career Transitions Forum

The Career Transitions Forum (CTF) is a unique series of lectures, presentations, and networking activities designed to support professionals who are transitioning in their careers.

Professionals from recruitment firms, corporations, and the local community will present a broad array of job search strategies and tips, with a different topic presented each week. New participants can join any week.  

Free Career Advising

Career Advising is available from our prestigious team of business executives for those who have attended at least one CTF session and preferably who have completed an HRD resume class. 

To schedule an appointment, submit the CTF Career Advising Request form, which is available at CTF meetings on Thursdays from 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh.

Here are details on our current panel of advisors:

Al Rankin: has been involved as a leader and/or advisor of CTF and its predecessors since 2008. Over a long career, he headed corporate communications for Marriott International and 3 other NYSE companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas. His experience ranges from branding and media relations to stakeholder and crisis communications, including speechwriting and non-profit development. In 2016, he joined Fonville Morisey Realty as a Realtor. He holds B.J. and M.A. degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Peter Large: Peter has been working with Career Transitions since 2012 assisting people with resume reviews, networking strategies, and interview preparation. Peter is a retired IBM Project Executive, where he held various sales and sales management positions prior to serving as Practice Leader for a software integration services business focused on the retail sector. Peter has expertise in business management, customer relationships and project management. He has a BS degree in Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Joy Hodge: a thought leader in career and talent management, with over 20 years’ experience designing innovative strategies, products and solutions to boost the effectiveness of leaders, managers, employees, and organizations. Joy directly impacted business results, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement and retention at Fidelity Investments and GlaxoSmithKline, and gained deep experience in managing HRD product development teams at Global Knowledge. She has advanced degrees in Adult Education and Learning and Development from NC State University.

Prashant Pandya: is a Senior Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner who helps guide individuals, families, trusts, and business owners towards achieving their financial goals and dreams. Areas of expertise include investments, taxes, retirement, insurance and estate planning. Prashant is also a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor who can assist with 401K retirement plans and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor. Prior to working in financial services, Prashant worked with IBM in various hardware and software architecture, consulting and management roles.

Lara Gardner: is Technical Group Recruiting Manager at BB&T and served in a similar role at IBM. She manages a team of 4-6 technical recruiters and has direct experience with recruiting and hiring, as well as setting recruiting strategies and serving as the executive recruiter for senior technical leadership positions within BB&T.

Claire Boland: Claire has held numerous HR leadership roles at both small and large fortune 500 companies within banking, life sciences, and manufacturing arenas. She has worked extensively in talent identification and employee development to help develop employee strengths, skill gaps, and development opportunities. Currently, she splits her time between HR consulting with global companies and with Right Management, where she works with candidates in transition.

Rachel Cox: Rachel cultivates and develops people, helping them leverage their strengths through training and coaching. For the past 6 years, she has been a Coach with The Entrepreneur's Source and volunteers with Dress for Success, the Better Business Bureau, and American Corporate Partnership. She comes from the hospitality and event planning industry. During her career, she rebranded 2 hotels to improve market share. she was a Regional Director over 13 markets across the nation and a General Manager for 9 years, orchestrating $5M budgets. She has launched 2 startups - a vending model and a web-based model. She also created a women's networking group called "Women in the Workforce."

Olivia Ecker: Olivia is the Director, Talent Acquisition & Employee Experience at HZO, Inc. and has professional experience in the biopharmaceutical, financial services, and technology industries. Olivia is passionate about the 4 phases of “The Employee Experience” including candidates, new hires, employees and alumni in full support of a “people first” HR Strategy. Recently, she experienced her own career transition and is dedicating her time outside of work to helping others who are experiencing career transitions of their own. Olivia relocated to North Carolina in 2018 and is also volunteering with Raleigh SHRM, Dress for Success NC, and the Raleigh Rescue Mission. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications & Political Science from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. 

Schedule of Events

Nov 7 | Carrie Stafford | How to Create and Deliver an Effective Elevator Speech

This presentation will help those is career transition learn how to develop and deliver an elevator speech that will hold the attention of their audience.  An effective and clear elevator speech will serve to motivate others to help those in career transition with their job search.  Participants will learn important details in writing and delivering an effective speech that will not only help them while networking but also in the interview process.  Be prepared to learn and then practice your 30 second elevator speech! 

Carrie Stafford is a passionate coach with a heart to encourage and motivate others in career and life transitions. After several years in business to business sales, Carrie experienced her own extended period of career transition due to a company downsizing. She was able to turn a negative into a positive by helping hundreds of fellow job seekers with networking, resume writing, interview role play, and career counseling.  It was her time in career transition that inspired Carrie to become a career transition coach.  In 2012, Carrie decided to pursue certification as a Professional Coach. As a Coach, she empowers others who are dissatisfied or unmotivated in their careers to find purpose and fulfillment in whatever work they choose to do.

Nov 14 | Valerie Massengill, CFP | Leave It, Move It, Roll It, Take It

How you handle your 401(k), pension or other employer-sponsored retirement plan when you leave your job is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. Join Valerie Massengill and learn the most common distribution options, how to avoid having the IRS withhold 20% of your retirement distribution, and how taxes, penalties and investment options factor into your decision. She will also provide a current market update.

Valerie has been working as a Financial Advisor for Edward Jones for over six years, currently in her office in Rolesville, NC. She graduated from North Carolina State University, and in 2011, earned her Certified Financial Planner designation.

Nov 21 | Kerry Ahrend, M.S., PMP | A Project Charter = Success!

If you are in transition, it helps to have a Project Charter to help you focus on working through your transition successfully.  In this interactive session, Kerry Ahrend will have participants work to complete their individual Project Charters – arming them with the tools and knowledge they need to produce better resumes, perform better in interviews, and find a better fit in their next position!

Kerry Ahrend, M.S., PMP, provides education, training, coaching, tools and strategies to increase the professionalism and productivity of organizations and individual contributors.  Her specialties include project management training and consulting, leadership development, team building, collaborative negotiations, and communications that connect.


Trinity Baptist Church - Chapel
4815 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC
Directions to Church
Church Campus Map

Day & Time:
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Arrive early and stay after for valuable informal networking!

CTF LinkedIn Group
This is a moderated group. Professionals must attend one or more CTF sessions to join.

Enhance Your Resume, Market yourself, Explore A New Career

HRD (Human Resources Development) courses provide assistance for adults who are trying to find employment, transitioning back into the workforce, or working to redefine their professional niche in today's global market. HRD offers many relevant classes that will help equip you for success in your job search. 

What our students are saying...

I have accepted an offer from Cisco as a Marketing Manager in their Enterprise Networking group. You can say that “networking” will be my job and not only a means for career advancement!
I am really thankful to you and other leaders and participants of Career Transition Forum group for their tremendous support, encouragement, willingness to help, opening rolodex’s, and insights into the modern hiring process. I truly learned from the wonderful speakers you invited, and from others’ experiences.
I am happy to extend help to anyone in the group to the extent I can.
- Vivek B., CTF Alumni

Today, I landed a permanent position at IAT Insurance as a Technical Project Manager/Process & Change Manager.  I am really excited!  It's truly a dream job for me where I will use all of my certifications. I could not have done it without your support and advice! Especially these 2 simple steps that REALLY made me a stand-out candidate:

  1. Networked with employed people in my field (which led to a friendship with an IAT IT staff member --> which led to my sincere interest in IAT --> which led to a referral!)
  2. Shared stories about specific technical projects I managed that are directly related to projects that IAT is planning to undertake now. 

- Elizabeth R., CTF Alumni

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